‘Tis the season to rock your website shopping cart

Jingle bells, batman smells… Can’t you almost hear the little neighborhood cherubs lighting up that classic? Yes, Christmas is still almost 3 months away, but put it another way, CHRISTMAS IS LESS THAN 3 MONTHS AWAY!!! And let me ask you this question, my fellow authors, are you selling your books online at your website? I can almost hear the responses. No, Mark I’m not. In fact, my website can’t handle ecommerce. It’s for information purposes only. All of you that don’t have a way for folks to buy your books online at your website, please send me your addresses. I’ll be right over the slap some sense into you.

In the spirit of evolution (both the ‘Earth is millions of years old’ kind and the ‘Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs just days after the Earth was created a few thousand years ago’ kind – hey, whatever you believe is find with me, the last thing I want to do is offend anyone, I need all the fans I can get!), I am once again changing up the old website, http://www.markfadden.com. Currently, I have my Paypal account linked to my site and people can go through that to buy books. But it’s an involved process, and I’ve found out that I’m losing customers because of the hassle. Therefore, I purchased the ‘quick shopping cart’ module from my webhosting service, godaddy.com. Yes, brothers and sisters of the pen, I have looked into the eyes of Jillian Michaels, the new Godaddy Girl, as she silently taunts me from the godaddy.com homepage to be a better man. I can almost hear her yelling, “being a better man means selling more books, jackass!” Selling more books online means buying a shopping cart module for my site.

Now, like I did with my kid’s playground, before I bought it, I read through the ‘Quick Shopping Cart’ customer reviews like, “I installed my shopping cart add-on and had it up and running in no time!” and I thought, “Cool. This should only take me a half hour, hour at the most.” Let me just say that, like said playground, it ain’t going quite a quickly as promised. I’ll get back to you when I’m done, but we’re holding at 2 hours right now. Maybe I should call Jillian over to help.

But here’s a serious part to the shopping cart/ecommerce equation: what about the sales tax? Godaddy even gives you options like the ability to skip the sales tax or charge sales tax depending on your situation. Again, Google to the resecue. I did some research and found an interesting article on the Yahoo! Small Business site. It seems that sales tax should be charged to customers that live in your same state, but there may be a loophole here. Also, there’s a bill in Congress that might just create a national Internet sales tax. Here’s the link to read the article for yourself to determine what you should do for your site: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/r-article-a-2604-m-2-sc-59-sales_tax_on_the_internet_who_pays_it_who_doesnt-i

Regardless of the tax situation, you need to be selling your books on your website. Especially since the Christmas season is ramping up. Tis the season, let’s all sell some good books!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden] is the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate one-of-a-kind gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

Better book marketing with search engine optimization

Whether you’re a freelance writer with a website that shows potential clients your work, or you have a full e-commerce site that you use to sell books online, I’m going to ask you something that may remind you of the title of an 80’s Def Leppard song: Is your site optimized?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Excalibur’s sword when it comes to you being the king of your web kingdom. I attended an eye-opening seminar about SEO put on by the Colleyville Chamber of Commerce. The seminar was conducted by i5 web works, a Dallas/Fort Worth Website Design, Internet Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization firm. “You really, really, really, really need to have a blog,” was just one of the points Principal and Co-Founder Michael Burns drove home. And that’s not just for writers, but for everyone. Search engines, it turns out, love blogs. But they have to be quality blogs with updated information. “You can’t just post on your blog every few months,” Burns said. “Blogging has to be a daily thing.”

Towards the end of the seminar, Burns and crew looked at a few of the audience members websites and wouldn’t you know they picked mine. Burns offered invaluable constructive criticism about the problems with my site from an SEO and design perspective as well. I’ll be covering these topics over the next couple weeks. Why? Two reasons: One, sticking to one topic at a time allows us to get fully immersed in it. And two, because it gives me more subjects for multiple posts!

For tonight, let’s talk title tags. Title tags are the keywords that come up at the very top of the window (in the blue part). You probably don’t even look at them very often, but those keywords tell the search engine what that page is all about. The title tag for my home page, http://www.markfadden.com, used to read, “Official website of author Mark Fadden.” Sounds important to us, right? But to the search engine, it means nothing. Using what I learned at the seminar, I streamlined the home page to just have a short welcome and a preview of the first 4 chapters of my latest thriller, The Brink. I used Google’s keyword tool (can be found under the “opportunities” tab on their Adwords page), and typed in ‘book preview, new author, and read books online.’ The tool then not only tells you how many global and local searches are made a month for each keyword or phrase, it also offers keywords or phrases that are like yours and those monthly search numbers as well.

Based upon how many searches were made for certain keywords, I’ve now changed the home page title tag to read: “Read books online – New Author Mark Fadden book preview.” Incidentally, Burns mentioned that each page of your site needs to have unique title tags, and don’t go past 65 characters. I just changed the tags today, so I won’t have any information on how they have impacted traffic until tomorrow. Godaddy.com, my web hosting service, has a 24-hour lag time in posting site statistics, so we’ll review them in tomorrow’s post. Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“He’s the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate one-of-a-kind gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html